Evan Choltco-Devlin's Road to Recovery

Jun 12, 2012
by Paris Gore  
Views: 9,064    Faves: 53    Comments: 3



Words by Lacy Kemp, and Evan Choltco-Devlin.

Many of you reading this may know Evan as a friend, Co-worker, riding buddy or may not know him at all. Chances are, Evan had a hand in designing the frame or components you are riding on today. Currently working at Contour, Evan is not a new face in the mountain bike industry. You also may have read a feature article about his trip to Peru in the March issue of Decline Magazine. The following is the story of Evan's remarkable recovery which would not have been as successful without the passionate support of the mountain bike community on his side.

Evan fought what was to be thought the impossible. 6 months after a serious brain injury and riding bikes again Congrats buddy

It's hard to believe it's been 8 months since Evan's accident. It honestly feels like yesterday I was kneeling in the dirt in Cusco with Evan wondering if he was going to live. I can recall every tiny detail - the colors, the smell, the sounds, the wind, the endless fear. Not because I want to, but because it's etched in my brain forever. I can't even type this without getting emo. It was the most intense thing I've ever dealt with, but what's interesting is that while the accident and injury were incredibly scary, I've actually been able to pull some good things out of a horrific situation.

Never before have I focused so much on perspectives. It's crazy how something like this can make you appreciate little things. When Evan was able to sip water on his own, it was a big deal. When he took his first steps, told his first joke, and even dominated a meal of sushi, it was pretty much the greatest thing ever. Watching his face light up when I smuggled in coffee and Reeses felt awesome - because he remembered some of the little things in life that made him happy. He doesn't recall the weeks in the hospital, or some time after, but every one of those achievements felt massive to me.

Lifestyle

The first day Ev and I got to ride DH together after six months away from the bike was great. The first day we stood together in the lineup at Whistler was even better. Following him down B Line for our signature chainless warmup lap actually made me choke up. It was kind of like the culmination of everything we've been through. All the waiting, hoping, talking about bikes, dreaming about bikes, dreaming about riding our favorite trails was finally a reality. Even better, he gets to rock a cool eye patch, and I get to draw on them.

After a long 6 months two of the industries best friends ride again together for the first time.

bigquotesThis experience has profoundly changed my life, and I'm not even the one who got hurt. It's made me really see what love, life, and an incredible community can do for your spirit. There's not a day that goes by where I don't think about how lucky he is, and then I realize that luck is only a part of it. It's the people that really believed in Evan that helped his recovery the most. It's helped my recovery. So, to the bike community that has been there every step of the way, thank you so, so much. - Lacy Kemp

You may remember Ian Hylands won a Fox 40 at the Inside Out Premier fundraiser for Evan. Hylands generously donated the fork to Evan and got it signed by this weekends winner of the second World Cup of the season Aaron Gwin.
  Ian Hylands won this Fox 40 at Evan's fundraiser a while back and even got it signed by Aaron Gwin. Needles to say, Evan is stoked!

Evan and his Knolly frame that he is stoked to be back on after 6 months of recovery.

October 6, 2011 was the closest I’ve been to dying since being born six weeks premature. I was caught by the wind mid-jump on a road gap (read: donkey-cart path) in rural Peru. I landed too sideways, too heavy over the front wheel, and too far down the landing. I was launched over the bars and my hands only made it about six inches in front of my face before my head slammed into the countryside. Without a helmet, or even one as protective as my Urge Endur-O-Matic, the story would have ended here. Wayo, Miguel, Lacy, Sam, Nick, Rich, Amanda, Dave, and Dave all rushed to my side to help.

Moments prior to Evan s life changing crash. Photo Credit Amanda Nielsen -ignore my copyright in the exif-
  Evan sends the road gap moments before the crash that changed his life forever.

A helicopter was called in but to no avail, as winds were too strong. Thankfully a “4x4” ambulance was able to make the journey. With my good friend Lacy Kemp in back, our guide Wayo in the front seat yelling out the window and working the hand-crank siren, and dodging numerous chickens, carts, and people, we made it to the Cusco hospital. The doctors were originally afraid of a cracked skull, a brain contusion, a broken neck, and permanent neurological damage. As time went by and X-rays and CT scan results came in, many of those worries were calmed.

Once I was stable four days later I was air transferred to the Lima hospital where my dad was waiting for me. I was fully released nine days after the crash still unable to create new memories, extremely weak on my left side, and still have a seriously lazy eye. I was considered extremely lucky (though not out of the woods). At least that’s what I’m told.

The first part of Evan s story appeared as a feature article in the March 2012 Issue of Decline Magazine.

As Lacy put it, I “face[d] an uphill battle getting back on [my] bike.” A long and difficult battle it was, but I won; we won. I say, “we” because without the help, love, and support of my family, friends, the bicycle industry, and you, the bicycle community, it wouldn’t have turned out nearly as well as it did. Friends showing up with dinner, visits and phone calls from family, new and replacement gear from industry friends and sponsors, kind words, a fundraiser with a line around the block, and (sometimes missed) high fives from the community were the weapons I needed to win the battle.

End to a great day of riding.

The past eight months could have so easily been lost to self-pity and depression. Instead it was long nights spent on the trainer and doing PT. It was cold, drenched days of trail building in the rain and snow. It was weekends away for mountain bike instructor training. Perhaps most of all, it was an unshakeable drive to be where I was, or better than I was, before the crash. Every day no matter what I was doing, be it spinning on the trainer or building a new line, I was being cheered on by tireless fans on the heckle rock of recovery.

1st annual Heckle couch 2012. Evans friends and fan club cheer him on to recover quick and get back on that bike

My neurologist said I could start taking minimal risks with my head six months after the accident. April 6, 2012 was my first day biking outside since my crash, and I made damn sure that I did absolutely everything within my power to make that return as smooth as possible. Yes, I did it for myself, for my love of bikes and riding them, and the constant need to push my own limits. I also did it for you.

Roosts a new section of trail he helped build during his recovery and hadn t been able to ride until today

My first day back was simply riding to work with a great friend. Then a trail ride with 30 of the best wannabe pirates. Next, a day shredding downhill on trails I’d helped build and refine. Each of those and every ride after that, I’ve done for me and for you. I still have some recovery to go through, particularly my right trochlear nerve still needs time to heal so my double vision with subside. But every day on my bike is better than the one before, and every day on my bike is a bonus day in the truest sense of the term.

Evan s second day back on the bike in 6 months meant riding harder than most of you as it is.

Absolutely none of this could have been possible without such amazing support. If you see a big dude with an eyepatch riding in the Pacific Northwest or the Whistler Bike Park, say hi or give me a high five. I’d love to express my gratitude in person and say, “Thanks!”

Posted In:
Stories



42 Comments

  • 31 0
 You make a great Mexican pirate, Evan. Being mega stubborn pays off. Even though it took tricking you into drinknig "fake" smoothies in a Cusco hospital, I never lost hope that you'd regain your strength. You never lost site of your passion and that was your biggest ally. Thanks for being a huge inspiration to everyone in our community. HTF, but with caution!

Paris- this is a beautiful video, and your photos are incredible. Thanks for taking the time and effort to share the story.
  • 6 0
 Great article and video! Evan, even though I haven't gotten to see you recently, you have been such an inspiration to me throughout all of this. You have reminded me of what I love about mountain biking. It's not about how fast I go or what jumps I have or have not hit. It's not about race results or comparisons. It's about fun, adventure, and feeling alive. It's about not taking this life so damn seriously, because after all, it could all be over in an instant. It's about laughing, smiling, being goofy, and rolling around on toys in the beautiful woods with friends. Thanks Evan! I can't wait to get back on two wheels with you guys!
  • 3 0
 Can't wait to see you back too, Lynds!
  • 5 0
 Evan you are an inspiration to the human spirit with the steadfast will to overcome all obstacles in lifes path. You have a strong resolve and you can see that in your recovery......sometimes we also have to give thanks to the man upstairs for direction and healing. Godspeed!
  • 5 0
 lucky you Evan for all that support from your friends, it doesn't happen to everybody, and it's really difficult and frightening when you have to get up only by yourself, with your family just saying "we hope you won't come back again on that stupid bike!!". welcome back on the trails!
  • 5 0
 Wow, that was touching. You've summed up the feeling of the recovery I'm going through after recently going over the bars and fracturing/bursting a handful of vertebrae. I cannot wait to get on the trainer, get this neck brace off and shred!
All the best in your recovery
  • 2 0
 Thanks for the article, Paris. I recently suffered a summer ending crash and broke my leg. This truly is an inspiration. All that happened to me was a shattered tibia, infection from the surgery and wounded pride. After reading this, it's not so bad. So happy for you Evan to be back on the bike. Ride on!
  • 2 0
 Thank's man! we are so stoked to be able to share this story with everyone. Good luck on your recovery!
  • 2 0
 A fantastic story. I would like to warn everyone (especially the young guns) to not get back on your bike, or to any physical activity, too soon after a head injury. Give your brain rest. You can have a concussion without having symptoms and then if you hit your head again you risk significantly more serious damage to the brain. If you hit your head - REST. Your brain will thank you later.
  • 2 0
 Too true man, we see this happen way to often. Especially at contests.
  • 4 0
 There are several good studies on head injury and return to sport out there, I don't have the time to search for them right now. But basically any type of head injury or concussion is serious and should result in time off from any activity where repeat injury however minor may happen.

Old CDC report from 1997, there are some good more recent ones if you take the time to look...
  • 4 0
 Big on ya Evan!! Just a thought, but you should get a pimp custom eye patch. Like purple velvet with a Crown Royale logo on it.
  • 2 0
 Evan! That is a crazy, amazing and scary story! I'm so glad you are making a speedy recovery. I was just got back from being in Whistler for a couple days catching up with people as was wondering what you were up to - we haven't crossed paths for awhile. (It's Jon from Mtn Riders btw). We should catch up, ride bikes and swap engineering stories one of these days.
  • 4 0
 tear jerker story. shazam. kick ass and take names bud. beautiful thang, something so intense and now hearing and seeing Evan back in action. brilliant!
  • 3 0
 Hey buddy! So stoked to see you back on the bike. I'm very happy that you are enjoying the bike again! Best wishes form PERU! Hope to see you next year, I have earned a big trip in the US! Smile Just kidding! Come back soon!
  • 2 0
 Thanks so much for the great comments, everyone! I appreciate your thoughts in that my story is inspirational and hope that others facing difficult times (or just a crappy day) may gain from it. Though the real commendation should go to all of you for being such and inspiration and driving force to me through it all.

Remember, No Shirts On The Couch!
  • 5 0
 Welcome back dude. Huck to Flat!
  • 2 0
 It is truly amazing what human willpower, strong support of family and friends and a pure passion for a sport we all love can do.
I can't imagine how hard it must be to ride a bike with one eye. Smile
  • 4 0
 To the chocolate devil...Great to see the back in attack...and looking fashionable on the bike as always. Be well....
  • 2 0
 great story, thanks for sharing. I'm just starting back on the downhill rig after a crash in October myself, so that did a good job of cheering me up today!
  • 2 0
 Hard work, great friends, unending support, and the constant drive to improve - you are quite an inspiring man, Evan. Smile Wear your helmets everyone, protect your noggins!
  • 2 0
 Very inspirational. Your drive and eagerness definitely creates a level of success that most would have trouble struggling through (most likely with me included).
  • 2 0
 Good work Evan. Weren't you bleeding and on your way to the clinic when I met you the first time? Back in '02 or so? The first summer you were working at Fanatyk Co.
  • 2 0
 It's always darkest before the light. Great article/vid/show of human resiliance. So glad you're back riding Evan!! Hopefully yaaaaar out shredding right now!!
  • 2 0
 Pirate jokes with Evan have yet to get old Big Grin
  • 3 0
 Riding with one eye would be so trippy. Good to see you back on the bike!
  • 2 0
 But in Evan's case, not as trippy as riding with two eyes Big Grin
  • 2 0
 This is true.
  • 3 1
 Nothing to say.. just TWO THUMBS UP, heck.. I'll even throw in the the big toes as well.
  • 3 0
 That vid is just like a slideshow full of POD's!!!
  • 2 0
 Big up to you, Evan! Ride it like you stole it, or at least for now-- like you plan on stealing it!
  • 3 0
 Truly amazing, congratulations on your recovery. Shred on, Evan.
  • 2 0
 WOW very very inspiring to live life to the fullest no matter what the world throws at you!!!
  • 2 0
 Way to persevere Evan, very inspirational. Do what you love, stoked that you get to ride again!
  • 2 0
 nice work bro! good to have you back!
  • 2 0
 Way to go Evan! Lets shred in Squamish when you get a chance! Love Glenn
  • 2 0
 Awesome story.Best wishes out of germany!
  • 2 0
 Get well soon to rip some more.
  • 1 0
 This still gives me the chills after almost a year. I'm honored to know all of you that helped.
  • 2 0
 well done dude!
  • 2 0
 thats why I love MTB!
  • 2 0
 Very awesome.





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